LETTER: March with MSU Students United to fight for students' rights

An Open Letter to the MSU community:

My name is Duncan Tarr and I am part of MSU Students United, an autonomous group on campus that is fighting for students’ rights and for an accessible, democratic education.

But this letter is not about me. It is about all of us. I am writing this letter because something has to be done, and because we are the ones that have to do it.

Because the Board of Trustees makes its decisions in secret meetings the night before the public meetings. Because in-state tuition at MSU has gone up, adjusted to inflation, about 444% since 1979. Because our university is run like a business, and this business plan pushes its external costs onto us, the students. Because student loans are the most profitable loans for lending institutions; it is impossible to declare bankruptcy on student loans and brutal late fees. Exorbitant interest rates have become the status quo. Because national outstanding student debt now exceeds one trillion dollars. Because a university administration that is anything less than proactive, unbiased, and accountable when it comes to investigating sexual assault is absolutely reprehensible. Because the ratio of minority populations at MSU to those in the state of Michigan are often as low as half. Because I have heard far too many stories of students going to the administration with their concerns and being dismissed, rudely and condescendingly.

I am writing this letter because, as students, and as primary funders of the university, we have the power to enact the change that we want to see.

I am writing this letter to invite you all, undergraduates, graduates, professors, and community members, to a March on the Capitol on Friday, April 11. We will begin at Beaumont Tower at noon and march down Michigan Avenue to rally outside the Capitol building.

Students United has drafted the following demands:

1) An end to tuition hikes 2) A return to pre-Snyder higher education funding levels 3) State funding tied to minority enrollment and retention 4) Investigations of sexual assault overseen by the state 5) Amending student debt relief policy 6) 50 percent student representation on the Board of Trustees.

But these are our demands. We think they are important ones. But if you have different demands, write them up, make a sign, write a chant, and let your demands be heard.

Because this march is about taking back our universities. And that means having students’ voices heard. And that means that we want to hear you.

I am writing this letter because only by standing together and uniting our voices will we be heard. And for the sake of a university and an education that acts as a force for liberation and not indoctrination, the time to act is now.

See you on the April 11.

Love and Solidarity,

Duncan Tarr


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